Where do Track Your Plaque membership revenues go? 26. December 2008 William Davis (9) People pay about $90 per year to become Members on the Track Your Plaque website. This provide access to our in-depth Special Reports, guides, webinars, and our proprietary software data tracking tools. Members can also participate in online discussions, such as those in the Track Your Plaque Forum and chats. Why is there a charge for membership in the program and where does the money go? Money raised from membership fees goes towards: 1) The costs of doing business, e.g., server fees, software purchases, legal fees. Hosting webinars, for instance, costs us about $99 per month for the GoToWebinar software service. 2) Software development--Our most recent round of software data tracking tools, for instance, cost us nearly $30,000. That may not be a lot from big business standards, but it is onerous enough that obtaining membership dues really helps. 3) Graphics development--A website without graphics would be awfully dull, regardless of the quality of the textual content. Some of the newest tools on the Track Your Plaque website require photography and graphics work, which can add up very quickly. Where membership fees do NOT go: 1) In our pockets--In fact, except for the various contractors who are paid for their services (e.g., software developers), NOBODY on the Track Your Plaque staff are paid: not me, nor any of the behind-the-scenes staff. Some of the staff overlap with my office staff, but they are paid purely out of the office revenues, not out of Track Your Plaque membership dues. 2) Towards overhead costs beyond those listed above--For example, membership fees do not pay for office lease, utilities, phones, etc. We rely on membership fees because we have chosen to remain as free of commercial bias as possible. We host no advertising, we have no behind-the-scenes corporate or institutional agendas, we show no favoritism to any business or commercial operation. We believe this permits editorial freedom that few other health websites can enjoy. (In fact, I know of no other that is so free of commercial bias, outside of small blogs or narrow-interest websites.) If you want to see what damage commercial bias can create, just go to a health website like WebMD. I challenge you to find information that is not flagrantly biased by commercial influence, namely that of the drug industry. (According to the WebMD SEC filings, in fact, the great majority--approximately 80%--of their $331 million revenues (2007) were derived directly or indirectly from the drug industry.) This commercial bias reaches into all of WebMD's related businesses, including MedicineNet.com, RxList.com, Medscape.com, and several others. Preventing heart disease is not a money maker, sad to say. It is, from the perspective of conventional heart care, a big money loser. Undergo a heart catheterization, hospitalization, stent or bypass for anywhere from $14,000 to well over $100,000---or pay $90 for in-depth health information that dramatically reduces the potential need for the hospital and its procedures, minimizes need for prescription medication (statins alone, of course, are a $27 billion annual revenue phenomenon), and achieves all this by maximizing nutrition, self-purchased nutritional supplements, and inexpensive heart scans. Nobody is going to make a bundle off of this approach. So that is why we charge a membership fee. I often get a laugh from some of the comments of people on this blog or even in my office who believe that we are rolling in money from the website from membership dues. The opposite is true: We don't pay ourselves. Virtually every penny is reinvested back into the website to better serve the Members.